By Lisa Flueckiger, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Crime numbers have significantly dropped in communities with a Pacifying Police Unit (UPP) between 2008 and 2014 according to the latest numbers from the Public Safety Institute (ISP). In 36 UPP areas in Rio, homicides have decreased by 65.5 percent, street robberies by 57.3 percent, while the apprehension of drugs has increased by 301 percent.
Killings due to police intervention have also fallen in that time period with a decrease in cases from 136 to 20, representing a drop of 85.5 percent, reaching the same levels as generally noted in the municipality of Rio de Janeiro. In 2007, communities had been double as likely to suffer from killings in police interventions.
“This data is very strong and enlightening, because it shows a historical series. [If a] film about the UPP, [had been] shot over seven years, is [would be] a very good one, despite some bad points,” Security Secretary José Mariano Beltrame commented on the data.
Occurrences of lethal violence have decreased by 76.3 percent, while homicides have been reduced from 116 cases in 2008 to forty cases in 2014, a decrease of 65.5 percent. In the general municipality of Rio, homicides have fallen only by 42.5 percent in the same time period.
Also, 301 percent more drugs were apprehended during the years surveyed, but 70.1 percent fewer weapons.
Yet, the year 2015 so far has seen an increased reporting of shootings and stray bullets hitting bystanders, as an increase in the proliferation of weapons has been noticed by the police. It remains to be seen if the positive trend seen in the data can be continued.
Nevertheless, Security Secretary Beltram remains optimistic. He sees a changing in police reasoning as a driving force behind the improvement of violence in Rio. “The UPP ended what I call a war. Before the police did not want to make war, but they were driven to do so. It was like this for many years. The solution is to end the confrontation.”
The statistics published by the ISP on Monday, May 11th, include data from 36 of the 38 areas with an UPP and are a first overview of the policy of pacification. It included all UPPs that have been installed for at least a year.
Covered in the survey however were only the streets in the communities that are under the responsibility of the UPPs and data are collected through official records of the Civil Police.